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Curr Biol. 1999 Apr 22;9(8):433-6.

Akt/PKB localisation and 3' phosphoinositide generation at sites of epithelial cell-matrix and cell-cell interaction.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PX, UK.


Protein kinase B (PKB or Akt) is a mitogen-regulated protein kinase involved in the protection of cells from apoptosis, the promotion of cell proliferation and diverse metabolic responses [1]. Its activation is initiated by the binding of 3' phosphorylated phosphoinositide lipids to its pleckstrin homology (PH) domain, resulting in the induction of activating phosphorylation at residues Thr308 and Ser473 by upstream kinases such as phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) [2]. Adhesion of epithelial cells to extracellular matrix leads to protection from apoptosis via the activation of phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase and Akt/PKB through an unknown mechanism [3] [4]. Here, we use the localisation of Akt/PKB within the cell to probe the sites of induction of PI 3-kinase activity. In fibroblasts, immunofluorescence microscopy showed that endogenous Akt/PKB localised to membrane ruffles at the outer edge of the cell following mitogen treatment as did green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions with full-length Akt/PKB or its PH domain alone. In epithelial cells, the PH domain of Akt/PKB localised to sites of cell-cell and cell-matrix contact, distinct from focal contacts, even in the absence of serum. As this localisation was disrupted by PI 3-kinase inhibitory drugs and by mutations that inhibit interaction with phosphoinositides, it is likely to represent the sites of constitutive 3' phosphoinositide generation that provide a cellular survival signal. We propose that the attachment-induced, PI-3-kinase-mediated survival signal in epithelial cells is generated not only by cell-matrix interaction but also by cell-cell interaction.

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